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Exhibitions | Past

Illuminating Faith: The Eucharist in Medieval Life and Art
May 17 through September 15, 2013

Elevation of the Eucharist, detail from the Della Rovere Missal
Italy, Rome, ca. 1485–90
Illuminated by the Master of the della Rovere
Missals (Jacopo Ravaldi?) for Cardinal Domenico della Rovere
The Morgan Library & Museum, New York
MS M.306, fol. 119r
Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan in 1907

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Curator Roger Wieck discusses the Sacred Bleeding Host of Dijon, the cult of which thrived for over 350 years. Video thumbnail
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When Christ changed bread and wine into his body and blood at the Last Supper, he instituted the Eucharist and established the central act of Christian worship. For medieval Christians, the Eucharist (the sacrament of Communion) was not only at the heart of the Mass—but its presence and symbolism also wielded enormous influence over cultural and civic life. Featuring more than sixty-five exquisitely illuminated manuscripts, Illuminating Faith offers glimpses into medieval culture, and explores the ways in which artists of the period depicted the celebration of the sacrament and its powerful hold on society.

The exhibition presents some of the Morgan's finest works, including the Hours of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, one of the greatest of all Books of Hours; the exquisite Preparation for Mass of Pope Leo X, which remained at the Vatican until it was looted by Napoleon's troops in 1798; a private prayer book commissioned by Anne de Bretagne, queen of France, for her son the dauphin, Charles-Orland; and a number of rarely-exhibited Missals. Also on display will be objects used in medieval Eucharistic rituals, such as a chalice, ciborium, pax, altar card, and monstrances.

This exhibition is made possible by Virginia M. Schirrmeister, with further generous support from the Janine Luke and Melvin R. Seiden Fund for Exhibitions and Publications, and from James Marrow and Emily Rose.

Related Programs:

The Sacred Bleeding Host of Dijon
Friday, May 17, 7 p.m.

Artist Talk
Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt
Wednesday, June 12, 7 p.m.

The Bells of St. Mary
Friday, June 14, 7 p.m.

Babette’s Feast
Friday, June 28, 7 p.m.

Gallery Talk
Illuminating Faith: The Eucharist in Medieval Life and Art
Friday, July 12, 7 p.m.

« See all past exhibitions

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.